BEN CASSIDY became the youngest player to appear for Alvechurch’s first team, with manager Ian Long insisting: If they are good enough, they are old enough.
Cassidy, a 16-year-old front-runner who came through West Brom’s youth ranks, came on as a substitute in Tuesday’s Birmingham Senior Cup KO to Highgate United, and was denied a debut goal when his shot hit the post and fell into the arms of keeper Chris Jay.
The winger was on target the following night, however, netting four times in a 4-0 win for the U18s against Tipton Town in the county’s Joel Richards Memorial Cup.
Cassidy’s emergence plus the arrival of forward Andre Landell from Rushall Olympic, who also made his debut on Tuesday, has bolstered the squad but Long also expressed his disappointment at seeing centre-back Andy Parsons exit to rivals Redditch United. The manager felt the defender had not waited long enough to try to win back his place before moving to the TRICO as part of Paul Smith’s revamp.
Cassidy will be one to watch for the future however, and, Long hopes, is further evidence of Alvechurch’s next generation.
“Ben has been training with the first team for two to three weeks and he hasn’t looked out of place,” said Long. “Having been at Albion, he has got a good pedigree and he’s really positive.
“Our policy is to bring in young and hungry players and give them their chance. We’ve proved that in the last few years with Josh March, then Luke Yates and now we’ve got Kieron Cook, Taylor Morrison and Theo Llewellyn. It bodes well for the future. If we think they’re good enough, then they will get their opportunity.”
New signing Landell will be hoping to get his opportunity after an injury-interrupted spell but he has proven ability after being with Wolves and Hednesford Town and playing in America.
“He hasn’t played that much football so we will need to build up his fitness,” said Long. “But he’s technically good, he sees a pass and he will suit the way we play, whether that’s as a No 9 or No 10.”
Landell will add to the attacking options, although both forwards Aaron Lloyd and Josh March netted in Saturday’s 2-1 win at Barwell.
They will all be in contention on Saturday when Alvechurch entertain St Ives Town in Southern Premier Central, although Danny O’Callaghan is a doubt after picking up a hamstring niggle in midweek.
Admission tomorrow will be £5 to mark 2018 Non-League Day.
Meanwhile, youngster Ben Tilbury has linked up with Droitwich to continue his football education, having had a spell with Wolves Casuals.
Long missed the Highgate match after being ‘called up’ for England C’s 1-0 win against Estonia. He helped manager Paul Fairclough get the team ready for the international played at Leyton Orient, looking after the kit and helping in training.
“It was a really enjoyable few days,” said Long. “It was a great experience and now I can claim I wore the Three Lions, albeit on a team tracksuit!”